Main parties release manifestos ahead of German election

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Main parties release manifestos ahead of German election

In advance of the Bundestag election, the main parties have released their manifestos. We used some basic areas of the Constitution that voters care about, from taxes to housing and climate, to see what kind of coalition government would make most sense when it comes to the priorities.

Armin Laschet, a conservative Democratic Union Chairman, is running to replace Annalena Baerbock for the Christian alliance and has lost ground lost to the Greens led by Angela Merkel. Support for CDU CSU has hovered below 30% in polls about 10 percentage points ahead of the Germans.

The Liberal Social Democrats, whose hopes lie with Christian Lindner (second vice-ministre) are running third, ahead of the liberal Liberal Free Democratic Party, led by Olaf Scholz, a potential kingmaker. Two far-right parties, the anti-capitalist Party at around 7% and the far-right alternative for Germany about 11%, are almost certain to remain in opposition.

The CDU and the CSU are rolling back tax increases and want to ease the burden on low and middle-income earners, while scrapping a so-called solidarity levy originally introduced to finance the reconstruction of the former communist East. They also plan to cap tax rates on corporate profits at 25%.

By contrast, the Greens are proposing an increase in the personal top tax rate to 48% from 42%, as well as levies on capital gains and wealth. Manager remuneration would no longer be written off as an operating expense. Meanwhile, tech companies such as Google and Facebook will be subjected to a digital tax. The overall tax cuts are rejected.

The SPD is also eyeing tax increases, increasing levies for the rich, including by reinstating a wealth tax. The party wants to relieve people with low and middle incomes. The FDP sees no broad leeway for tax cuts: it wants to lower taxes for companies and high earners, with an overall taxation level for companies no higher than the OECD average of around 25%. The party seeks a top tax rate of 42%, in effect from incomes of 90,000 euros. The FDP also wants negative profit tax to be paid out by tax authorities to companies to cover liquidity needs. The solidarity tax for the east ought to be scrapped.

The Greens want a 10-year investment plan worth 500 billion euros, with Baerbock saying she'll release government aid to compensate German industry for transition costs to climate neutrality. To finance the transformation, the party seeks to change the debt brake, which limits debt financing to 0.35% of GDP. The party wants investment to be treated as public assets, allowing the state to take on more debt while taking advantage of low interest rates.

The SPD seeks to continue building major investments with a looser approach to balancing budgets. The party has signaled a continuation of generous spending after the pandemic without explicitly calling for a change to the debt brake.

The FDP wants to reduce debt as soon as possible to 60% of the economic output and calls for a 'turbo repayment' Budget policy should be rigid, investment oriented and in line with the debt brake. Unnecessary state shares and all shares in companies that do not belong to public services of general interest have to be sold — especially government stakes in Deutsche Post and Deutsche Telekom.

The CDU bloc says the retirement age should not be lowered for pensioners. The party wants to increase a 'generation pension' fund, where the state pays a certain amount per child. The Greens want to raise social aid by at least 50 euros for population. In the medium term, guaranteed unemployment benefits will be replaced without conditions by a guaranteed security payment in part and in absolute certainty. Greens advocate a raise of the minimum wage from 9.50 to 12 euros.

The SPD wants a longer term unemployment aid to become a so-called citizen's income. That means that property and assets should not disqualify recipients from entitlement in the first two years. The Party wants the unemployment benefit to be paid for a longer period, reversing a labor-market reform it introduced at the beginning of the last decade. The minimum wage should be raised to 12 euros.

The FDP wants a standardized and centralized education in Germany, where the 16 states are responsible for education policy. Combining work and family life should be improved through tax incentives for company-based kindergartens. The Greens want to introduce a rent cap for small businesses to limit prices in communities with a tight commercial market. Each person should be given the right to buy or rent through a company within the United States Constitution. Rent controls should be introduced on a nation-wide scale.

The SPD wants to limit rent increases in regions with housing shortages to be in line with inflation. The party also wants to reinforce existing measures to ease rent rises in urban areas.

To combat housing shortage, the FDP also wants to build more. The party says restrictions on rents ultimately lead to less living space and should be avoided. It calls for a tax-free allowance of 500,000 euros to buy homes as a personal living space.

The CDU-led bloc is centered on promoting growth in the private sector and proposes setting up a German or European stock exchange for home-grown technology startups. The party says Germany needs to cut red tape to compete with the likes of China and global tech companies including Google, Amazon and Tesla.

The Greens want to be able to make internet giants exploit market dominance. The party wants to provide a program to encourage the creation of a wave of new companies or to offer easy access to as much as 25,000 euros in seed money. The program includes targeted support to women entrepreneurs. The SPD seeks to expand spending on research and innovation to ateast 3.5% of economic output and increase the availability of affordable credit to start-ups.

The FDP wants to significantly expand a fund for startup financing, while calling for limits on state participation in companies.

The CDU-led bloc is strongly committed to the NATO-led alliance as well as the transatlantic goal of spending 2% of economic output on defense. The EU must develop a unified strategy against the expansion of Chinese interests and insistence on fair market competition. The Russia's challenge to new values must be prevented and a new military threat countered.

The Greens demand an overhaul of NATO, claiming the alliance lacks a strategic perspective. The party also rejects the defense-spending target of 2%. Germany's transatlantic partnership needs to be renewed and framed in European terms. The party is outspoken about Chinese rights violations in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet — and support dialogue with Beijing only where China is willing to cooperate. The Greens explicitly call for a halt to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will ship gas between Germany and Russia in the Baltic Sea.

The SPD is more loyal to the United States than any other EU state — but won't sponsor the NATO 2% defence-spending goal. It calls for critical dialogue with Beijing, while calling out Chinese rights abuses. The party also calls for constructive dialogue with Moscow to defuse tensions and a prospect of scaling back EU sanctions if the Kremlin follows the Minsk agreement that aims to dial back conflict in eastern Ukraine.

FDP stands by NATO's goal — and seeks to spend 3% of the output on defense, development and diplomacy as a whole. The party supports a clearer position on Russian politics, calling for a moratorium on construction of Nordstream 2 until Moscow backs an independent inquiry into the poisoning of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny and broader improvements in its human rights record. Cooperation with China, 'a systemic rival', should move forward, but based on international law.

The CDU CSU says the process of further EU integration must continue. EU rules on fiscal policy that are suspended in Maastricht must be reinstated. The party rejects a transfer union and what it calls joint debt.

The Greens call for a complete exit of the EU's banking union, including a bloc-wide guarantee for savings. European Central Bank should pursue a common fiscal policy in order to reduce burden of the EU. The ECB should in turn increase growth and jobs as well as improving the price stability. The EU's bailout fund should also be merged with a European Monetary Fund, which will provide credit lines without conditions.

The SPD intends to develop the bloc's sustainability pact into a stability and growth pact. Rejecting austerity policies of the past, the SPD wants to move forward with a joint investment policy financed by the Covid-triggered EU recovery fund, triggered by common debt. The EU must be given the capability for fiscal policy action and develop towards a real fiscal, economic and social union.

The FDP calls for a full integration of EU rules on debt and deficits after the pandemic retreats. The party supports the European Monetary Fund as a trustee of public finances. The liberals want a federal convention that would work toward a constitutionally constituted EU.

The CDU-led bloc supports climate protection in tandem with sustainable growth, leveraging a market-oriented emissions trading system. The conservatives enlist the benefits of carbon neutrality until 2045.

In two decades the Greens plan for carbon neutrality. Only emissions-free cars should be registered from 2030, by which time coal-fired power plants will be eliminated and the Greens hope shorter-haul flights will become superfluous — especially with the expansion of rail travel. CO 2 pricing should be raised to 60 euros a ton in two years with citizens aided by reduction of the so-called renewable energy surcharge levy and disbursement of an energy bonus. The party wants to tie trade to climate change.

The SDP seeks greater neutrality for electricity production by 2040 ahead of a Carbon Neutrality goal in 2045. Measures in place to reduce the country's footprint should go hand-in-hand with job creation and support for communities facing job losses because of the energy shift.

The FDP wants to promote new technologies as a means of countering climate change. Emission trading is to be set as soon as possible and a CO 2 limit is increased so that investments in cleaner technologies are worthwhile. Certification of climate-friendly synthetic fuel should be introduced and a climate dividend should be eased as an incentive scheme.